How the NSA's Firmware Hacking Works and Why It's So Unsettling
One of the most shocking parts of the recently discovered spying network Equation Group is its mysterious module designed to reprogram or reflash a computer hard drive’s firmware with malicious code. The Kaspersky researchers who uncovered this said its ability to subvert hard drive firmware—the guts of any computer—“surpasses anything else” they had ever seen. The hacking tool, believed to be a product of the NSA, is significant because subverting the firmware gives the attackers God-like control of the system in a way that is stealthy and persistent even through software updates. The module, named “nls_933w.dll”, is the first of its kind found in the wild and is used with both the EquationDrug and GrayFish spy platforms Kaspersky uncovered. It also has another capability: to create invisible storage space on the hard drive to hide data stolen from the system so the attackers can retrieve it later. Here’s what we know about the firmware-flashing module. How It Works Go Back to Top.
Related: Hacking & Exploits
• Malicious Code